PLAYERS in the tourism sector have asked the Government to reviews bilateral ties with countries that promote illegal trade in ivory.
The over 30 groups led by Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association yesterday held demonstrations in Mombasa to condemn the rising cases of the vice.
MCTA chairman Mohamed Hersi in a joint memorandum presented to Coast PC and Kenya Wildlife Service said the ready market in China, Thailand and Philippines was a recipe for continued killing of wildlife in Kenya.
Hersi said with Kenya's wildlife at risk of elimination by poachers, the survival of tourism sector is equally at risk. "We ask the government to review our bilateral relations with China, Thailand and Philippines who are reluctant to stop ivory carvings and factories in their backyards," said Hersi in a joint statement signed by the organisations
Hersi added, "If these countries can hang drug dealers, why not ivory smugglers and traders?" The players including travel agencies, tour companies, beach hotels and tour operators said "our message to the Far East is, please leave our rhino alone. Its horn has no medicinal value nor is it an aphrodisiac."
The Kenya Association of Tour Operators, Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers, Kenya Wildlife Clubs and African Network of Animal Welfare took part in the demonstration. Travel groups, among them Pollman's Agency and Ketty Tours also participated in the demonstration.
Far East has provided a ready market for the illegal business with almost each container nabbed at the Mombasa port said to be destined to the region.
A recent consignment valued at Sh100 million worth of ivory was intercepted by the Kenya Revenue Authority as it was being ferried to Indonesia. A similar container full of ivory from Kenya was also intercepted in Hong Kong.
Hersi said game reserves and national parks, among them Tsavo, Maasai Mara, Samburu and Amboseli were the main target of the poachers. He demanded a review of penalties attached to the flourishing illegal business.
"Poaching is out of control with the continued killing of rhinos and elephants being a great concern for players in the tourism sector that contributes almost 13 per cent of the GDP," said Hersi.
KAHC Executive Officer Sammy Ikwaye said: "We don't believe all is well at KWS after the departure of former director Julius Kipng'etich and we want an independent body to ascertain what could be ailing the organisation."
The call by the stakeholders follows reports that internal rivalry at KWS may be a contributor to the full-scale poaching that has been experienced in the recent past.
The population of elephants and rhinos stands at 30,000 and 100 respectively and players in the sector say with continued poaching, the species may soon be exhausted.
"Tourism is one of the economic pillars under Vision 2030. If we don't protect wildlife we should forget achieving the milestone. Beach tourism is everywhere and we cannot rely on that alone," Hersi said. The stakeholders were received by Michael Gicheru, the acting assistant director and a representative from the PC's office.